When business leaders begin planning areas for improvement in a new ERP implementation, the warehouse is all too often ignored. But the warehouse is often an area where automation and reporting can deliver immediate impact through powerful warehouse management (WMS) features in modern ERP solutions. This article highlights just a few of the ways you can deliver quick impact to your warehouse via WMS capabilities.
Ensure full location coverage in your warehouse.
When most people think about bin tracking, they think of traditional shelf locations where inventory is held. But your warehouse likely has a variety of other locations where inventory can be held in the short-term: picking carts, staging areas, conveyors, forklifts, and inspection locations.
By treating each of these locations as an inventory location with a scannable LPN (License Plate Number), you can track every movement of your inventory – from its shelf location, to a pick cart, to a conveyor, to staging, to a box or pallet to be shipped to the customer.
Tracking these locations can be particularly beneficial if an order is canceled or items are removed while picking is in process. By tracking each movement in the warehouse, the software will track where it was last placed, and can direct staff to put it away from the locations where it was staged.
Automatically direct put-away based on capacity.
Using your ERP system’s directed put-away functionality allows receiving staff to be automatically instructed on where to put away inbound inventory.
A simple first step can be to assign pre-determined bin locations for each inventory item, to reduce guesswork or manual cross-referencing. Many modern ERP systems also provide more advanced slotting capabilities, allowing put-away to be informed by details like:
Dimensional and weight capacity of bin locations
Alternate put-away locations
Automated transfers between warehouses
Automated replenishments between bins (Kanban systems)
Integrate shipping carriers to reduce manual effort.
Outbound shipping processes are often overlooked during ERP implementation, but the shipping department is an area where real value and quickly be delivered. Choosing an ERP with integrated shipping functionality (such as quoting, manifest generation, label printing, and tracking) can quickly reduce manual efforts in the shipping department, including:
Double entry of address information into third-party shipping software
Answering rate quote requests from customer service
Entering/uploading tracking numbers in the ERP or e-commerce system
Cross-referencing case pack quantities/weights/dimensions
Run and understand employee performance reports.
Warehouse Management (WMS) software allows managers to run reports detailing the performance of each of their team members, by a variety of different metrics:
Number of orders/waves processed
Number of items processed
Total weight processed
Average time spent per item processed
Average time spent per order/wave processed
It’s important to understand these metrics in context. For instance, a team picking full pallet orders will naturally spend more time on each order than a team processing small retail orders. And your fastest picker is not necessarily going to be your safest. However, WMS performance metrics provide a baseline by which teams and employees can be compared.